VILNIUS - Negotiations on an investment by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Mazeikiu Nafta, the downstream Lithuanian oil company controlled by Russia's Yukos, have been at a standstill for several months, a local daily reported this week.
Talks began last year that would provide for the EBRD to take an equity stake in the refinery, which is 53.7 percent owned by Yukos and 40 percent owned by the state, in exchange for a guarantee that the Russian company would buy back the stake in several years' time.
According to Lietuvos Rytas, the negotiation process has stalled as the bank awaits Mazeikiu Nafta's strategic development plan, which has reportedly been drawn by not yet approved by the refinery's management board. Economy Minister Nerijus Eidukevicius has said that the plan has to be endorsed by the board before it can be sent to the EBRD.
The paper claimed that developments in Moscow, where Russia's law enforcement agencies have been investigating Yukos' chief shareholders, have complicated consideration of the plan. Russian authorities have accused the oil company, the country's largest, of not paying $3 billion in taxes, and former CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been in jail on fraud charges since October. The Prosecutor General's Office has also issued an arrest warrant for other major shareholders, including Mikhail Brudno, who is chairman of Mazeikiu Nafta's board.
Mazeikiu Nafta consists of a refinery, a pipeline system and the Butinge crude oil terminal.